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Ibn Ibrahim
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Joined: Sun May 14, 2017 12:46 am
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Post by Ibn Ibrahim »

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I read with sadness the announcement of the death of a house officer in one of the medical centres in the country. She was reported to have complained of a headache after taking a night call. This news is one of many occurring on a daily basis, we know of colleagues who got infected with HIV and hepatitis in the course of caring for their patient. Dr Adadevoh rare courage is still fresh in our memory. How about those that had cerebrovascular accidents due to stress and burnout? The list is endless.

Indeed, practising medicine can be so unforgiving as you are expected to work and to be above board in caring for patients regardless of your state of health. Most people seem to forget that when doctors struggle, the human side of the care they are trained to give suffers. You can commit errors which might amount to negligence or malpractice due to mental or physical ill-health, but who cares? Therefore, it is imperative that you optimise yourself in order to deliver good care to your patient.
The new physician’s pledge, which replaces the Hippocratic Oath was unequivocal in this regard: “ I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard ” Remember that you are equally responsible for your loved ones, you will do well to preserve yourself to take care of them.

As a healthcare practitioner, taking care of yourself should be one of the easiest things to do. You know the preventative measures against diseases. In complicated cases, you know the specialist to approach in order to get the best.

For the new doctors, I urge you to start to value your health earlier in your career. The earlier you consider this, the better because over the course of time you would have developed the habit of managing your health no matter how busy you might be.

Ironically, while we are learning how to be intuitive in taking care of patients, we tend to ignore the signs that tell us what is necessary to maintain our own well-being.
Take cognizance of the things and people that support your sense of well-being. Give priority to these things. It might be difficult to spend as much time as you would love to, but make them part of your life.
You have to stop waiting for permission to care about your own well-being. No matter how you work yourself to stupor, some people will never be satisfied. This reminds me vividly of an incident that occurred during my internship, a colleague was having a high fever and was shivering uncontrollably in the theatre and a senior registrar insisted that he must stay until the end of the surgery. If not for the overriding order by the operating surgeon, I wonder what would have happened to this colleague. Your colleagues are your brothers and friends; treat them the way you would love to be cared for. You don’t have to be a bully before you earn respect, be humane and compassionate towards them, you won’t regret you do.

Sometimes, the decisions you have to make to prioritize your well-being will go against the grain of traditional medical culture. If you are completely burnt out/exhausted/running on fumes, you need to decide for yourself what has to happen to improve that situation.

You are likely to wait forever hoping your consultant or the Head of Department will have your time to schedule a heart-to-heart meeting to check on your well-being. In reality, as long as you show up when you are expected and get no patient complaints, no one is probably going to be concerned. You have to be your own advocate.

We need to think about the balance between our well-being and work in our lives. If they are at variance, now is the time to start planning how to follow a middle course. In the long run, starting this way will serve you and the entire health care system.

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